Do-It-Yourself Jobs Fuel $419 Billion Home-Renovation Boom

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The pandemic pushed Americans to spend on their homes like never before, tackling do-it-yourself projects with a newfound fervor after years of favoring contractors.

Total spending on home improvement and repairs climbed an estimated 3% last year to $419 billion, despite a slowdown in the broader U.S. economy, researchers from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies said in a study released Thursday.

While that market has been increasing over the past decade, the composition of the spending changed markedly in 2020, as more people took on projects themselves and remodeling shifted away from the coasts to less-expensive areas inland.

“Amid concerns about having contractors in the home, DIY projects gained new popularity,” said Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the joint center. “And remodeling activity shifted to lower-cost metros where larger shares of younger households -- traditionally the most active do-it-yourselfers -- could afford to own homes.”

Do-It-Yourself Jobs Fuel $419 Billion Home-Renovation Boom

The boom has buoyed home-improvement chains such as Home Depot Inc., which has seen its stock has surge more than 60% in the past 12 months, reaching record highs.

While the researchers said there’s a solid foundation for future growth in spending, gains are likely to moderate.

Home Depot, the world’s largest home-improvement retailer, said last month that purchases would likely be “flat to slightly positive” this year after a 25% jump in same-store sales for the quarter ended Jan. 31. Lowe’s Cos. projected a decline in revenue this year following a 28.6% increase in same-store sales in the fourth quarter.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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